By Rebecca Sowray
R.E.M. UK at the Tackeroo, Hednesford
Friday 17th May 2013
Her phone has broken but our babysitter remembers that we are out tonight; I do not need to throw things.  My long suffering other half has escaped from work on time.  Some stuff is just beyond explanation.
We leave the house and the live music side effects start early.  My child like excitement stops just short of nausea, words spill from my over enthusiasm and I have the attention span of a multi coloured slinky.
The M6 seems strangely quiet as we drive down. I am grateful when the sat nav delivers us smoothly to the venue, rather than some random spot half an hour distant.  We’re pressed for time and the last vestige of my adulthood rests when I realise we’re still early.
There’s someone in the car park I recognise but clearly I needed to concentrate a while longer because security asks me to re-park the car, not quite so far from the others this time.
In the bar area there are folk that we know but these are some of the magicians, sorry, musicians that we have come to see.  They are down to earth and approachable.  I manage to say hello before my admiration strangles me.
I’d be well pleased with the Tackeroo as my local venue.  It’s a pleasantly symmetrical space.  Posters as wall paper have me peering at what has been and it’s a good strong mixture; local and distant, originals and tributes.  There is a vision that has gone in putting this place together.  Recorded music plays and the choices sit easily with the R.E.M. covers that will follow.
It doesn’t matter how a band looks; only the music matters.  But when they move to occupy the stage there is more than a nod to that other R.E.M.  Led by a memory image of Michael Stipe there is an ease to them; a suggestion of belief.
The percussive, guitar tied opening of Orange Crush is by turns resonant and melodic, then the difficult answer to an unasked question. Played live, complete with megaphone and drowning in attitude it tells you that the belief is not at all misplaced.
That line.  “What’s next? A song.”  A perfect working together of parts. The musical image that hides the work that ever stands beneath it.  There are other songs and as the set list builds our faces ache as we smile more.
And “Drive”; an opening guitar line as a question.  The answer hurls imagery, makes one thing stand for another and is sung by a voice that reaches into you, completely alive in the music. These are moments of perfect reinvention.
Such nights end too quickly.  The grown up me looks back in only to wonder when R.E.M. UK’s next gig will be.
R.E.M. UK:
Rebecca Sowray
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